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Images: Smartisan

Last week, Chinese educationist Luo Yonghao delivered “China’s best smartphone” after two years of announcing it – the Smartisan (Smart + Artisan) T1, that Engadget dubbed a “surprisingly unique Android phone from China”. Many are asking if the Smartisan T1 – with a hammer for its logo – will emerge as the iPhone’s next big rival in China. The reason: Smartisan OS, a refined version of the complacent stock Android, built into an iPhone-inspired handset.

Judging from its outer shell, obvious comparisons are being made with the Apple iPhone – the front and back glass panel design and fonts — since its designer is Robert Brunner, a former Apple employee. Forbes Magazine writes: 

“Luo made no effort to hide his imitative inclinations. He called Steve Jobs his “idol”, whose great attention to detail he wanted to bring to his own T1…However, imitation alone couldn’t take the merits away from a great product. Isn’t Steve Jobs the one who said that “Great artists steal” after all?”

Watch this promotional video to hear T1 Robert Brunner talk about the T1’s perfect symmetry and design philosophy.

The hardware aligns itself with standard top-of-the-line phones in the market (more on that later); here’s a bit about the Smartisan OS with its thoughtful user interface that’s fixed all that was sorely missing in the current Android versions.

It begins with no wallpaper option for the sake of cleanliness and redesigned icons that aren’t simply round or square. The screen looks clean with a 3 x 3 grid panel that zooms out to a 6 x 6 or even a 9 x 9 layout from where you can directly access apps or even move them around. Each icon panel has a drop shadow that makes the UI look more 3D than flat. You can opt for a 4 x 4 layout or even revert to a grid-less Android UI if you want. The Smartisan also offers a range of theme colours – black, gray, blue, wood, purple, rock, leather and brown.

More little thoughtful touches — the T1 lets you take a picture by just releasing the side keys rather than unlocking the phone and launching the camera app. That’s just some of what the Smartisan OS makes possible. You can get a bumper for the phone if you like or at $30, you can buy the “SmartCare+” warranty that entitles you to two front or back panel changes within a year.

Hardware specs:

The Smartisan T1 has a 5-inch JDI Gorilla Glass screen, with a 1080p resolution and a 445ppi pixel density. Powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, it comes with 2GB RAM and internal memory of 16GB or 32GB – no microSD expansion. It’s got a 13 MP, f/2.0 Sony camera on the rear and a 5MP camera in front. Get complete specifications from the official site.

Price and availability:

The high-end phone will be priced at 3000 Yuan ($481 or Rs.28,309) for the 16GB model and 3150 Yuan ($ 505 or Rs.29,725) for the 32GB model. Available in colours black and white, it will arrive on international shores not before a year or two.

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